Saving Brains

The Saving Brains Early Childhood Stimulation pilot program aimed to secure the futures of 260 vulnerable children in Swaziland, addressing the acute needs of infants across the first 1,000 days of life when brain development is crucial.






2017 - 2018

Early childhood stimulation (ECS) and brain development are crucial during the first 1,000 days of life; babies born in extreme poverty are at risk of disrupted brain development due to poor nutrition and under-stimulation. We employed an evidence-based program offering a sustainable, community-based, integrated package to HIV-impacted (PMTCT) mothers and babies in rural Eswatini, who are among the most vulnerable populations in Africa. Bantwana brought an innovative package of elements to provide the requisite skills and knowledge on Early Childhood Stimulation and Nutrition (ECS) while empowering vulnerable mothers with economic strengthening and access to nutritional supplementation for babies through Income, Savings and Loan Associations (ISALs) and drought-resistant permaculture gardens.

The integrated program engaged 260 HIV+ mother-baby pairs through the following key activities:
  • Early Childhood Stimulation and nutrition training
  • Permaculture gardening training to improve access to nutritional food for babies and avert stunting
  • Caregiver Income, Savings and Loan programs for economic resilience
  • Referrals to health and HIV services
  • Mobile messaging on ECS to deepen early childhood stimulation trainings and information, delivering a menu of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) messages to mothers.